Hey Hey Hockeytown, and We Sure Don't Mean Pittsburgh

Tracy Certo (Pop City editor): So, how cool is this ... a Penguins/Red Wing showdown! With you at Model D in Detroit and me at Pop City in Pittsburgh, we can have some fun here.

As long as the media doesn't brand this a "Rust Belt Rumble". To that I would say ... Penalty! We're done with the Rust Belt moniker. It no longer applies. How about... the Great Lakes Stakes instead? Anything!

Clare Pfeiffer Ramsey (Model D editor): Sorry, Tracy, did you say something? I was just having "How Swede It Is" tattooed on my arm while watching Happy Feet. Those cute little penguins get me every time. Oh, wait, that was Penguins hockey.

Rust Belt. Well, that talk is tired and old. We're talking Gary Roberts old. Y'all have heard of him over there in Pop City, right? I think he pre-dates the invention of hockey? (Of course, we can't really talk. Isn't Chris Chelios the inventor of the puck?) Maybe one day when Michigan leads the world in alternative fuel production and research (have you heard of NextEnergy?) we'll be called the "Green Belt."

Tracy: I can only think of one city other than Pittsburgh that has possibly -- I repeat possibly-- done as much in the way of transformation following a dying industry and that might -- I repeat might -- be ... Detroit.

Here we've morphed from a steel town to one of Eds 'n Meds, with leading companies such as Bayer, Medrad and powerhouse U's such as Pitt and Carnegie Mellon.

Pittsburgh rocks. Not to be puckish but have you seen us lately?

Clare: The real story is how un-rusty our cities are becoming. Since Detroit hosted a Super Bowl and Pittsburgh actually played in one, we've come a long, long way in Motown, particularly in Downtown.

In fact, if you're on your way to the Joe to watch some real hockey, we've got three casinos — two with gorgeous new hotels and a third hotel on the way. The MGM Grand and the Motor City casinos have amazing new restaurants — the view from Irridescence's 40-foot windows is almost as breathtaking as the desserts, and has Wolfgang Puck even heard of Pittsburgh? There are also amazing day spas where weary Penguins can have a nice hot soak to recover from the Red Wings' thrashings.

Tracy:  Well I could be on my way to the Joe ... was that your way of saying you've got tickets waiting for me? If so I'll take you up on that and the spa treatments. Plus it looks like there are plenty of available seats. As the Post-Gazette says: This is Hockeytown? Get real!

Clare: Hey, Hockeytown is trademarked, so back off!

Tracy: Sorry, Swedie. But we sell out regular season games here. And good luck finding a ticket for the Pittsburgh games. The Penguins are hot. Hotter than the Swedes. [Note from Clare: Not possible, have you seen Henrik Zetterberg? He's the David Beckham of Sweden.] Hotter than the state of robotics in this city--can you say RoboBurgh?, hotter than our revitalized downtown and Cultural District which is rated tops in the nation for a city this size. Not to mention our green standing. We're way green, third in the country in square footage of LEED-rated buildings.

Why go on. You'll see for yourself after the Red Wings are iced and Pittsburgh, America's Most Livable City, plays host.

Kelli Kavanaugh (Model D Development News editor): Ladies, can I interject?

I am going to flip the script a bit and mention a few of our most pointed similarities. Two of my University of Detroit roommates hailed from Pittsburgh (don't worry, you got them back) so I've spent a fair amount of time in your lovely, er, burg.

First off, we both have terrible roads. Granted, yours have scenic hills while ours are as flat as Holland for the most part, but I think it's funny that two towns known for engineering can't manage to build a decent road.

We are maniacal about our football teams, no matter how rotten they are. But I think Pittsburgh wins in terms of sheer number of Steeler-themed house accessories I have seen erected.

I know we've put the Rust Belt moniker to bed, but it is true that our  work ethic unites us. We work hard, play hard ... and love our teams. With that said, I would totally insert a Pirates joke right about now, but my Tigers are, shall we say, having a rough beginning. So I'll leave you with a simple "Go Pistons!"

Yeah, you got nothin' to say about that one, do you?

Clare: All I hear is the sound of weeping Penguins. Plus my ears are still ringing from Movement, our massive three-day techno fest that draws millions of kids from round the globe to hear another Motown sound we innovated -- i.e. techno music.

There are loads of similarities between Detroit and Pittsburgh, and I just don't mean the beautiful way both our teams skate.

One thing we could both use a big dose of is transit. In Detroit we've got public and private entities working to improve it (and maybe one day they'll be all working together), and we're hoping to see light rail down a major corridor before our babies are having babies. What's the deal in PGH? Got any transit news we could use?

Tracy: Penguins don't weep. They get back on their happy feet and seek revenge. Transit? We're working on it. It's a hot button issue and we need some bold, innovative measures. Speaking of bold, I must tell you our daily paper ran a nice article Saturday about Detroit and how much it's changed since the Steelers played in the Super Bowl -- which wasn't that long ago.It mentions great strides in riverfront development.

Clare: Thank you Pittsburgh! You guys rock! (Hey Tracy, stop editing my sections!)

We're still a little  behind you in some non-hockey areas: We're just getting to the point where our riverfront is usable for recreation. A massive public/private effort has led to our $140 million Detroit RiverWalk -- an awesome place to stroll and contemplate the artistic skill of Pavel Datsyuk's puck handling.

These joint efforts between the city, state, feds, foundations and other private funds have really changed the landscape around here. Our zoo, Eastern Market, Campus Martius Park, our Clean Downtown efforts -- all of these show great cooperation. Kinda like the way Niklas Lidstrom and Henrik Zetterberg work to move the puck down the ice, wouldn't you say?

Tracy:  I was out biking downtown today along our stunning riverfront trails (my favorite thing in this town bar none) and I got to wonder -- what is a "red wing" anyway? What says ice hockey better than Penguin, eh? Just a thought. Pittsburgh. Penguins.  Alliteration and perfect icon all at once. 

To paraphrase Eddie Izzard -- who was in town last week to a packed house at the Benedum, one of our glorious theaters downtown -- even the Stone Age was cutting edge at one time. How does that relate to anything? I don't know but I loved that line. "Twigs? No! Get with the Stone Age!"

What I admire about that charming Brit comic is his way of looking at something familiar in an unexpected, original way.

And if you look at our two cities, Pittsburgh's transformation and then Detroit's, isn't that the same kind of thing on a much grander scale? The very things that made these two cities world leaders in two different industries -- a strong sense of innovation, an unbeatable work ethic -- are still with us today and that's what driving us in new, unexpected directions.

Where once our rivers were used for industrial purposes, to help forge steel, today's they're much cleaner and beautiful. Our riverfront trails are the the best way to experience the splendid scenery and topography of our town. If you're coming in for the game Wednesday, I'll reserve a bike for you.

Because I read your weekly publication -- it's pretty awesome, Clare -- I hear there's a new bike place along the route --  Wheelhouse, started by a Model D'er, Kelli.

Off to the Strip District, my favorite nabe, for some Saturday shopping. I trust my tickets will be here upon my return.  Go Pens!

Tracy Certo is editor and publisher of Pittsburgh's Pop City online magazine. Clare Pfeiffer Ramsey is editor of Model D. And Kelli B.  Kavanaugh writes about Development News in Detroit.

Go Wings! Go Pistons!


Penguin and Red Wing fans show their support

Iridescence restaurant

Movement '08

The Point - Pittsburgh - courtesy photo Brian Cohen - Popcity's managing photog

Photographs by Marvin Shaouni
Marvin Shaouni is the managing photographer for Metromode & Model D.

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